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Chase West Florida banking unit boss looks at market with fresh eyes

Banking veteran Dan Borasch was recently hired by JPMorgan Chase to head its middle-market banking unit in West Florida. He says his focus is on building long-term business relationships.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Banking veteran Dan Borasch was recently hired by JPMorgan Chase to head its middle-market banking unit in West Florida. He says his focus is on building long-term business relationships.

A behemoth like JPMor­gan Chase may be a household name with its omnipresent credit cards and thousands of employees in the bay area.

But it's a newbie when it comes to breaking into relationship-driven banking circles here.

The New York megabank used to have a modest branch network in this area, but it retracted in the 1990s. Now it's re-establishing a platform by buying the assets of the fizzled Washington Mutual, giving it WaMu's network of 27 area branches.

Chase's next steps: an advertising blitz to get its name out and development of a team of bankers with close ties to the region.

Enter Dan Borasch, who spent 22 years in Tampa banking. Borasch, 60, has worked internationally and in the United States for a series of banks including Wachovia Corp. in Tampa. After retiring from Wachovia in 2002, he joined LaSalle Bank in Tampa, an institution acquired by Bank of America in December 2007.

Borasch started in the industry decades ago with the former Manufacturers Hanover in New York, a legacy Chase bank.

Now he's come full circle, recently named by Chase to head its middle market banking unit in West Florida. Borasch, who will be based in Tampa, talked with the Times about being the new kid on what's a very familiar block.

For many, the credit freeze is still very real. What's happening with small-business lending here?

I can only look at it from a Chase perspective. We're approaching the market with fresh eyes, which is a great way to do it. A lot of existing lenders in the market have a little fatigue from having worked through this recession the past two years. They're having a more difficult time.

We're able to look at the market and look for companies where we can add value and build a long-term relationship.

Any particular industry you're focused on?

Not really. Sometimes it's easier to say what we're not focused on. We're not doing commercial real estate out of our group. We're looking at distribution companies, manufacturing companies, service companies.

What goals have you set?

We're not talking about goals. It's a patient approach. We're not saying specifically we have to be "X" at a certain period.

You've targeted companies with revenue in the $10 million to $500 million range. How much of the local economy is tied to that middle market?

It's a preponderance. In the Tampa Bay market, there are the largest companies like Jabil or Tech Data at the top, but there's so very few of those. There are a lot of companies in the $10 to $500 (million range).

So how does Chase stand out among banks competing for their business?

It'll happen in different ways. It will be people I've known in the market over time. I've been here a while. And it will be people saying, "We understand Chase is entering the market. We understand Chase's reputation. We want to talk to Chase."

Chase is in an interesting situation — a major national player yet relatively new to Florida banking. How do you leverage your national brand name to grow?

We talk about what we can offer to the companies here, what we can do to gain new clients for them.

Another way is by referrals. With the bankers we have across the country, we're going to get companies from New York or Chicago or Dallas or wherever saying, "Dan, I have a client moving to the Tampa market. We'd like you to help them."

Are you going to lend aggressively?

Lending is obviously an important part of what we do, but treasury (services) is also important. We're one of the top treasury banks in the country, in fact the world.

We've got a huge toolbox to offer. One is treasury both domestic and international. Our investment banking capabilities are top notch. Our international foreign exchange. Our 401(k)s. We're looking at the whole gamut of financial needs a client may have.

How many bankers will be working this business market?

Our initial budget is for five. I'm in the process of interviewing now.

Who's your biggest competitors here?

You've got Wells/Wachovia, Bank of America and SunTrust. They've got the lion's share of the market at this point. But things are changing. Whenever there's change, there's opportunity. And this will be a great opportunity.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8242. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jeffmharrington.

Chase, by the numbers

• Statewide, JPMorgan Chase has 13,000 employees, 237 bank branches and 1,025 ATMs.

• In the Tampa Bay area, it has about 4,600 employees, most of them working at two large centers: the Highland Oaks office park east of Tampa and the Fountain Square location near Tampa International Airport.

• Chase's bay area total includes more than 250 employees at 27 branches picked up through the Washington Mutual acquisition.

Chase West Florida banking unit boss looks at market with fresh eyes 11/01/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2009 11:53am]
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